Posts Tagged ‘Mesut Ozil’

Counterpoint: Mesut Ozil, Necessary

Read a piece in SI by Sid Lowe on how the signing of Mesut Ozil presents a problem for Real Madrid with its olio of talented middle men.

Mesut Ozil, a necessary step for The Special One

It’s a good read; I recommend it, but the author’s points are perhaps not well-founded.

Lowe’s sentiment is that Real Madrid has painted itself into a corner by bringing in Ozil when they have needs at other positions as well as a glut of players competing to get a runout at the Bernabeu.

If Real Madrid were any other team: one confounded with financial concerns and management, one that has to coddle it’s stars and stroke their egos, one that is perhaps not in an attractive location or league then I would be inclined to agree.

Real Madrid has none of these problems. They freely spend and where once they may have kowtowed to their stars, they now have the Super-ego (pun intended) of Jose Mourinho, perhaps the most qualified coach for a team still referred to as Los Galácticos.

The Special One cannot be the Shackled One in finding the right World Class players for his squad...

What Real Madrid needed upon Mourinho’s entrance was talent.


A stockpile of it. Sure, as the writer correctly adds, Real Madrid acutely, and has stated, that is needs a striker and perhaps a right back.

But consider also that you are talking about a manager who, in the most critical game for his team last season, deployed a tempermental striker primarily at leftback in Samuel E’to to best Barcelona at Camp Nou. Not a peep from E’to as well as an eye-opening performance by the Cameroonian.

Mourinho–in all his magnetism–is more than adept and reaching players and getting them to buy in to the team. Especially superstars.

All Mourinho really needs to do early in 2010 here is get Ronaldo to commit to him. For if Ronaldo–in all his audacious ability–can commit and give of himself than how can any other player on Madrid not?

As TSG witnessed in person a few weeks ago at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Ronaldo from opening whistle to closing whistle–as our photographer Shaun put it–“worked his socks off.”

In a meaningless friendly.

Madrid, again as Lowe points out, is at 26 players on its roster where Mourinho wants to keep 23.

Now, with the addition of Ozil, the Special One can choose from a perceived glut of World Class players, those who want to conform to his strategy and tactics.

Mourinho would not have been able to choose from World Class talent if it wasn’t there in redundancy. What do you do if you’re goal is Champion’s League and La Liga glory if you have to choose between a World Class talent who plays individually and an above average player who plays for the team? Who do you choose…if you’re Mourinho that is?

That Real Madrid will have to turn around and sell players at a discount to when they purchased them isn’t an the issue Lowe makes out.

This is a team that extravagantly spent over $190M last year on just two players and then hired Mourinho knowing full well that the manager would demand players for his system that might not be the ones that Madrid just spent for last year.

This is a team that purchased Wesley Sneijder for $27M in 2007 only turn around and sell the player for $15M in 2009 when he didn’t fit into last’s year crowded midfield at the Bernebeu.

No, the Mesut Ozil signing doesn’t present a problem for Real Madrid on the pitch and or on the balance sheet.

It is and was in fact a necessity for Mourinho’s Darwinistic means of weeding out who’s going to buy in to his strategy at Real Madrid and play for him.

You can’t do that if the talent, duplicative World Class talent, is not there.

Reply from SI’s Sid Lowe:

Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t offer the space to reply properly.

Thanks for the nod, by the way. and it’s an interesting response, which I broadly agree with.

Now, I know that sounds contradictory but it’s not entirely. A few reasons why and points to make: I agree, Madrid needed a little more talent, although Mourinho has gone for specific players that, until the signing of Ozil, you wouldn’t necessarily describe as talent players. In the article note that they need a striker, which Mourinho still wants, and a left back (not a right back). And that in a sense they don’t need another media punta – which, going by the ‘overbooking’ as the Spanish call it, they don’t. Ozil’s position has more players than any other.
Of course he is not a problem per se (he’s a very good player and at a very good price). And if I had been in Madrid’s shoes, I would have taken him too: as Mourinho said, it was a good opportunity. But as I said in the piece, his arrival does provoke one, very specific problem – and that is what I was writing about. Madrid do need to find an exit strategy, they do need to lighten the sqaud. And that is not so easy as I think you suggest. Money IS tight for Madrid now, it DOES matter what they can recoup. And if they can’t get rid of players, the risk is to dressing room harmony (this is one area, of course, where Mourinho is especially talented). There is also a long-term question mark over Kaka; Ozil does present something of a challenge. I suspect, when Kaka returns that one of he or Ozil will end up playing as a narrow left-sided player in that line of three behind the striker. Mourinho’s greatest skill is often keeping those who don’t play happy, rather than those who do.

That will be the case again. But, yes, Ozil’s arrival does pose a challenge. Incidentally, you mention Sneijder as an example of how Madrid can without any problem get rid of very good players. I would argue that it shows quite the opposite: the desire to bring in certain players forced the departure of Sneijder and Robben – and they have been arguably the world’s most outstanding two players at club football level over the last year (maybe with Messi as an individual, plus Diego Milito). All the best.

WC 2010: 5 More Offenders To Watch (Part II)

If you missed Part I….you can either click here or scroll with your new infrared computer mouse that you weren’t supposed to get until tomorrow.

Atta'boy JZA! Merry XMas!

05. Jozy Altidore

Nearly everyone reading this column is–quite obviously–familiar with Big Jeezy. Altidore pummeled the MLS with Red Bulls before moving–with great expectation–to Villarreal in 2008.

Villarreal couldn’t find a spot for the youngster–now 20–and shipped him to Hull City on a one-year loan where his first year has been uneven.

Beyond Didier Drogba, Altidore is on the of few players that has fantastic dribbling ability to go along with massive size.

He is also one of the few offenders who can post up and turn on his guy in the center of the pitch or drive down the wing after facing up.

Can he–will he–put it together in World Cup 2010?

04. Mesut Özil

A favorite of TSG contributor Antonio, Özil is pushing for first team consideration on Germany 2010.

The 21-year-old rooster-haired Özil has 6 goals for Werder in the campaign thus far on 13 appearances. Better, for Germany, Özil has started to factor for the homeland.

Özil will sit in midfield and with talented players like Schweinsteiger and Podolski already in the fold, Özil’s skills might sneak up on opponents…but should also be announced to the world.

03. Fernando Torres

Torres needs no introduction.

So we’ll be brief and let Tim Howard tell you about Torres, “I think he’s been one of the top in the world. He’s got speed, and he’s got a great sense for the goal, which all great strikers have. The craziest thing about Torres is that as silky smooth as he is, he’s a scrapper as well.”

I’ll now quote myself and say, “If you were going to build the perfect striker, you build Fernando Torres…period.”

With Spain one of the favorites hoist the cup, with David Villa to play off, and with service from Cesc and Iniesta. Watch out!

02. Luis Fabiano

Brazil's unequaled numeral nine

USMNT fans will remember Fabiana’s gorgeous pirouette and shot through Jay DeMerit’s legs and past Timmy Howard that then righted Brazil all the way to the Confed Cup win.

Fabiano’s got everything and then some. Think of him as, say, Carmelo Anthony. He’s tall. He’s got a post up game; he can put back rebounds. He can even face you up and take you 1-on-1 or launch the 3. All he needs his service.

Brazil is coming in with a more defensive game plan to World Cup 2010–that doesn’t mean you won’t see Maicon launching crosses and Kaka shoveling passes….all in the direction of Fabiano who will be playing at the top of the offensive triangle.

(Not a highlight video, put this guy just screams striker.)

01. Didier Drogba

Drogba’s name and resume precedes himself.

This is the moment for Drogba to extoll his greatness. So often teammates (Lampard, Terry) and managers (Grant, Mourinho) call him the greatest; yet to the populace he’s more just a great striker. Not a great.

With the Ivory Coast having their strongest team in years and Drogba arguably in his last World Cup as a difference maker, it’s time for the Chelsea man to go off and claim 2010 as the Year of Drogba.


Honorable mentions:

One person you should’ve been able to watch is Alexandre Pato. It looks like Pato (The “Duck”) is being outright ignored by his national team. Right now he’s one of the best 20 players in the world, in TSG’s opinion. Can someone smudge his passport so it looks he was born in Miami? Ditto for Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has basically told the Sweden team to kiss off, turning down an invitation to the Italian friendly in November, perturbed at Sweden’s inability to qualify.

Just missing this list as well were Englishmen Wayne Rooney–a phenomenal forward but not top 10 player in our book–and wingman Aaron Lennon. It was Lennon in 2006 who showed the only penchant for one-on-one dazzlement for the Three Lions and he’s looking in better form this time around.

With their best team in years, we considered putting Robin Van Persie on this list. However the Dutch have a habit of folding in top international play and Van Persie is struggling with injuries right now.

No love from TSG for the USMNT’s own Landon Donovan. The world knows about Donovan and the USMNT will need that striker ahead of him. If the States go far, Jozy will need to make hay.

Franck Ribery might showcase his chops for France, but France doesn’t have the complete game or the coach to take it to the max this time around.

Is this Samuel E’to’s swan song as well? The Cameroonian still has the chops and his national team might surprise, however service to the now-Milan striker is variable at best, so no joy from The Shin Guardian.


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